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Dara Murphy's 'total disengagement with the Dáil' raised with Varadkar as Cork TD resigns his seat

He will take up a new job at the European Commission from today.

Dara Murphy has been accused of not representing his constituents due to his absenteeism from the Dáil.
Dara Murphy has been accused of not representing his constituents due to his absenteeism from the Dáil.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Updated Dec 4th 2019, 1:19 PM

THE TAOISEACH  HAS been accused of putting his party before the public interest by sanctioning Fine Gael’s Dara Murphy’s absenteeism in the Dáil.

Murphy has today resigned his seat from the Dáil.

He said he’ll be taking up a new position at the European Commission from today. 

In a letter to the leas-Ceann Comhairle last night, Murphy confirmed he was resigning his seat with immediate effect. 

The Cork North Central TD had faced criticism in recent weeks over reports around his attendance at Leinster House. 

The Dáil Committee on Members’ Interests had been asked to examine whether or not Murphy breached ethics legislation by claiming his full allowance while he was largely absent from Dáil over the past two years.

In a statement announcing his resignation, Murphy said he would “of course co-operate with any relevant statutory procedure that may be initiated.”

He added: “In addition, I would like to acknowledge and give thanks for the support I have received from so many people: the Taoiseach and the Fine Gael Party, at local and national level; my family; and most importantly I would like to thank the people of Cork North Central.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin rounded on Leo Varadkar during Leaders’ Questions today stating that Murphy showed “total disengagement with the Dáil” and accused him of failing to represent the people of Cork. 

He “fundamentally breached code of conduct” said Martin, and told the Taoiseach that Murphy’s actions were “endorsed by you”. 

Varadkar said he spoke to Murphy last night, and reiterated that Murphy is willing to submit any evidence needed to the investigation into his conduct. He said this might be done by the ethics committee, Sipo, or perhaps the Dáil clerk.

The Taoiseach has today confirmed that Sipo can indeed investigate former members of the House.

While defending his party colleague, Varadkar said there are other TDs who have other jobs. 

Martin said the issue with Murphy is his non-attendance to the Dail, as well as his lack of representation for his constituents. He highlighted that Murphy last attended a committee meeting in 2017, and has only tabled five parliamentary questions.

“Morally it is not sustainable,” said Martin, while adding that Varadkar was “guilty of a serious error in judgement” when it came to the case. 

Yesterday in the Dáil yesterday, the Taoiseach said he wanted to overhaul politicians’ expenses system.

He said the matters raised has “shown that our expenses system in this House, while it has significantly improved from ten years’ ago with expense now largely being vouched or verified, is far too lax”.

“In this House we have a system that was designed by politicians for politicians, and this should change. I will write to the Ceann Comhairle and to the party leaders to suggest that this whole issue should not be a system run by ourselves for ourselves.”

Also yesterday in the Dáil, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald read out the contents of a letter printed in the Irish Times by Father Peter McVerry.

The letter reads:

“I attended court with a young homeless boy who had been charged with theft of a bottle of orange, value €1.

“Another homeless man was charged with theft of four bars of chocolate, value €3.

“Another homeless man was charged with theft of two packets of Silk Cut cigarettes.

“A TD, on his way to, or from, his full-time, very well paid job in Brussels, stops by at Dáil Éireann to sign in, so that he can collect his full €51,600 expenses for his attendance in the Dáil.”

While a TD in the Dáil, Murphy had also worked for the European People’s Party in the EU as a vice president and was election campaign director for the European elections. 

He was elected to the Dáil in March 2011, having previously served as a councillor in Cork.

Murphy previously made headlines in 2015, when he was heavily criticised after it emerged he got two gardaí in Cork to drive him over 200 kilometres to Dublin for an early-morning flight.

It emerged he sought help after his car broke down on the motorway outside Mitchelstown in rural Cork at around 3am in the morning.

With additional reporting by Christina Finn

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Sean Murray

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